Thursday, March 6, 2014
Over the Counter #203
First up was To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing by Simon Garfield.
From the publisher, Gotham Books;
"Few things are as exciting and potentially life-changing as discovering an old letter. And while etiquette books still extol the practice, letter writing seems to be disappearing amid a flurry of e-mails, texting, and tweeting. The recent decline in letter writing marks a cultural shift so vast that in the future historians may divide time not between BC and AD but between the eras when people wrote letters and when they did not. So New York Times bestselling author Simon Garfield asks: Can anything be done to revive a practice that has dictated and tracked the progress of civilization for more than five hundred years?
In To the Letter, Garfield traces the fascinating history of letter writing from the love letter and the business letter to the chain letter and the letter of recommendation. He provides a tender critique of early letter-writing manuals and analyzes celebrated correspondence from Erasmus to Princess Diana. He also considers the role that letters have played as a literary device from Shakespeare to the epistolary novel, all the rage in the eighteenth century and alive and well today with bestsellers like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. At a time when the decline of letter writing appears to be irreversible, Garfield is the perfect candidate to inspire bibliophiles to put pen to paper and create a form of expression, emotion, and tactile delight we may clasp to our heart."
Next up was The Art of Lying Down: A Guide to Horizontal Living by Bernd Brunner.
From Melville House Publishing:
"An utterly charming study of the history of lying down—which is more complicated than you might think.
We spend a good third of our lives lying down: sleeping, dreaming, making love, thinking, reading, and getting well. Bernd Brunner’s ode to lying down is a rich exploration of cultural history and an entertaining collection of tales, ranging from the history of the mattress to the “slow living movement” to Stone Age repose—when people did not sleep lying down—and beyond. He approaches the horizontal state from a number of directions, but never loses his keen sense for the odd or unusual detail.
Far from being a pose of passivity or laziness, lying down can be a protest, a chance to gather thoughts or change your point of view—the other side to our upright, productive lives. Brunner makes an eloquent case for the importance of lying down in a world that values ever-greater levels of activity, arguing that time spent horizontally offers rewards that we’d do well not to ignore."
(Over the Counter is a regular weekly feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come to the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)